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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Altostratus lenticularis

I awoke this morning (Jan 23rd) to find that my weather station was recording the first sub-zero temperature (-0.3°C) since I acquired it last November. With nearly a cloudless sky and hoar frost on the ground I drove out to the end of Askam Pier so see if there was any snow on the hills. There was indeed (but not much) but conditions were good for generating altostratus lenticularis.

View from the end of my street - the clouds are altostratus lenticularis

Moreover, feeding in the creek beside the pier was a Spotted Redshank in winter plumage.

Spotted Redshank, an un -common relative of the 'ordinary' Redshank

Now, back to the clouds. Altostratus means "medium height" and "layered". Lenticularis means lens-like. These clouds are formed when moist air moves across a mountain range (the Cumbrian Fells, in this case) and is forced to rise until it reaches colder air above and condenses into cloud. Because of some atmospheric condition, typically a temperature inversion , the cloud does not rise higher to form cumulus but instead spreads out to form stratus (in this case altostratus, because of its height).

Because the air is moving, and also undulating over the mountains, the stratus doesn't form a continuous layer but instead breaks up into individual "lenses" which move away and the next one if formed.

Once the lenses have cleared the mountains, it is quite common for them to become "stacked".

Stacked lenticular clouds today over Walney Island

Ocasionally, the lenticularis can be dramatic, and not suprisingly they have been mistaken for UFOs! The image below is courtesy of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
What would you think if you saw this at night, back-lit by the moon?

Answers on a postcard...


Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

I would think it was aliens coming to take me away. I would want someone to hold my hand. Certainement.

7:25 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Moi aussi. Mind you, if they were like those cute little fellows in Close Encounters, I wouldn't mind too much.

9:10 pm  
Blogger simon said...

another greta post.. its like learning on-line!

The end of the street is looking good too

10:26 pm  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Hmmmm, I don't think I would mistake it for a space ship - though I wouldn't be able to stop myself commenting at length about the resemblence.
I must agree with my Australian friend, another great post Maalie. Thank you

2:23 am  
Blogger simon said...

can every one see my trouble typing?? greta not greAt post! Sorry Maalie.. I would have failed at Uni... :o(

10:54 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Ha! Ju's Little Sister, you would have to say that, wouldn't you! I mean, if the RNZAF scrambled off a squadron of interceptors to let fly their sidewinder missiles at every bit of lenticularisthat appeared over the Kaikouras, it'd get a bit expensive, wouldn't it?

Simon, no worries about the typos mate, we all do it. Pity the blogs don't allow editing, I'd be attit all the time! End of street looking superb today!

12:24 pm  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Pah. Clouds is clouds. I don't believe in round shaped space ships visiting Earth.

Smion I'm a ltilte dsipoaitend you mdae no cmnomet aubot my psot in rgeadrs to wrods, selplnig and tppynig eorers all taht tmie ago. I tinhk the ieda is fcasiantnig!

3:50 am  
Blogger TCA said...

I would think ..that was another fine whiskey I had consumed If I saw such a cloud at night.


9:43 am  
Blogger simon said...

hey Jim.. I was going to fly Business class... cathay pacific until they told me it was $12,000 aus dollars.... um.. 5000 pounds...

so its "cattle class Cathay for me for the 11th!

9:54 am  
Blogger Davy said...

Two typo's I'm afraid, "if formed" and "Ocassionaly". I never did get a spotted redshank in Cumbria... Nice spot.

1:25 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Another fascinating post, and I love that cloud, what a fantastic pic, a whipped cream and candy floss concoction.

7:32 pm  
Blogger simon said...

hay jooss... tlipos? watt typlos? I spull very wull
as yoooz can tull

10:31 pm  
Blogger simon said...

On a serious note: Jim. The federal government has just announced a 10 billion dollar plan to completely overhaul our irrigation systems and water management for the Murray-Darling river system.

(for those who don't know).. the Murray-Darling river system is currently managed by 4 states.. Qld in the north, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Each state has done little, if anything to improve infrastructure, much of the water allocation and irrigation channels etc dating back to the 19c. Most of it being political ( ie the cotton farms in QLD get bulk..)

The federal government, in providing this rescue package, has demanded the states hand over control.

It is being heralded by political parties and conservationists as a brilliant visionary plan...( which it is)

Sadly some are arguing ( i.e. QLD premier) that it is unconstitutional. Interesting to note Cubby Station ( a huge cotton plantation) is based at the head waters of the Darling and is in QLD....take a huge amount of water flow...

Also:- on extinction:- Scientists have just dicovered fossils in central ausrlia, never seen before kangaroo and other marsupials... 3 times bigger than the largest re kangaroo...

Thought you might like to know....

10:46 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Simon: could you expand a bit more on the irrigation system and what it will actually mean to the people, animals and birds in NSW, Vic. and Qsd. Perhaps you could do it on your blog as you may be strapped for space on Maalies site.
Also I would love to hear more about the fossels. I find all this so interesting, and some of my favourite books are those written by and about, the Leakeys.

11:13 am  
Blogger simon said...

well, Yes I will but i may start another blog on things like that.

Maalie has been out west and has seen tanks and what we have done in the past too...

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

I love the views, no wonder you chose to live there - and those very mysterious clouds again, it gives the place a unique look.

4:56 pm  

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